The Prophet Mohammed, Islam, and the Bicameral Mind

Discussion of the implications of the bicameral mind theory for religion. Also neurotheology and the origin of religion.
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The Prophet Mohammed, Islam, and the Bicameral Mind

Post by Moderator »

This is a very interesting article on Mohammed's trance states (reminiscent of the Oracle at Delphi) and auditory/visual hallucinations:

Wahi: the Supernatural Basis of Islam

It raises the possibility that Islam was founded on the auditory hallucinations of Mohammed, who perhaps experienced a partial relapse to the bicameral mind.
Last edited by Moderator on Tue Jul 12, 2005 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Soupdragon »

Very interesting article. I particularly like chapter 3, the Hindu-Buddhist interpretation.
The specifically Hindu contribution to our understanding of the Quranic revelation is to bring in the yogic experience. As an example of how yogic practice can go wrong, warning against the dangers of experimenting with yoga without competent guidance, Vivekananda mentioned Mohammed: "The yogi says there is a great danger in stumbling upon this state. In a good many cases, there is the danger of the brain being deranged, and, as a rule, you will find that all those men, however great they were, who had stumbled upon this superconscious state without understanding it, groped in the dark...
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Re: The Prophet Mohammed, Islam, and the Bicameral Mind

Post by clivedurdle »

One of the major issues we are all facing is how to relate to others who commit extreme violent behaviour and also continually state they are obeying a god.

Jaynes has got some fascinating insights into religious behaviours that are very important.

For example, might the rituals of Islam, like the bowing, reinforce right brain activity? Are the calls to prayer hexamic?
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Re: The Prophet Mohammed, Islam, and the Bicameral Mind

Post by Mohieddin »

Of course , Julian Jaynes was one of greatest thinkers of humanity.

I think he was misunderstood not by his opponents only, but also by the proponents of his theory

First, Jaynes proposed a hypothesis for explaining the Mechanism of the emergence of the self-narrative consciousness as an abstract functional relationship on the ground of perceptions or what to be called animal consciousness (even if it's not true consciousness according to his definition, however we mean that vivid sensual experience of our minds). Jaynes noted that for the majority of our awakening times (as during performing most of our daily activities), we are not truly conscious about our inner selves. This doesn't mean that we have no awareness of these events and their memories during the day.

This is the background of awareness that Jaynes touched nothing of it. As he was aware of the vast perplexity of terms and definitions in this field. Worth noting that most of the current theories and studies about consciousness are considered with that background. From reductionists who see these experiences to be just an epiphenomenon of the electrical activities of the brain, to Roger Penrose who is convinced that it represents quantum actions (with all the mysteries of quantum physics and its superpositions that doesn't differ so much from the old age's superstitions), to the pan-psychists which include eminent characters like Erwin Shrodinger, who see it as in essential attribute of everything.

I mention this just to be oriented with the fact that the description of Jaynesian mechanism of consciousness as abstract functions derived from material perception, is something yet to be proved after proving that the mere sensual perceptions themselves are not abstractions performed by the brain at the mind-world boundary.

Second, I think Jaynes delivered his theory about the hallucinatory nature of religions to the world, and let the implications of this idea an open motto for those who are concerned.

Clearly, Jaynes himself confessed that the "Eureka moment" that solved his hard problem, and pushed forward the wagon of his magnum opus, was an event of auditory hallucinations telling him to merge the Known with the Knower. Just to be careful. Absolutely, he wanted not to invoke souls and oracles. Instead, he tried to emphasize that the right hemisphere is endowed with some sort of special abilities that aren't always false or misguiding.

He even tried to give famous and well recognized examples of great scientists from the 20th century, for whom the gates of science opened under the control of their un-consiousness (an idea, that was enough for Carl Jung, to suggest the existence of the collective Subconsciousness). Anyway, the great hierarchies of the old ages wouldn't be owed to just mere dictatorial voices keeping the order under control.

‌Third, unfortunately for who asks, Islam as well as Christianity and Judaism were ideological movements against the paganism (an explicit ancient form of bicameralism according to Jaynes. No, it is one of the fundamental producers and sustainers of bicameralism).

‌Moreover, a special religious tradition in Islam is to do a anything you do by your right side, open the door or the book or whatever by your right hand, enter the room or the mosque by your right leg. For example, If two persons are in front of an entrance and they are inviting each other respectfully to enter first. An end of discussion is to that who on the right side.

‌Even, there's a tradition that some Muslims laugh about it, when they learn their children to eat by their right hand, or otherwise the devil will eat with who uses his left. Some children may ask their dads: I ate with my left, and I saw nothing in short in the dinner !!!!!

‌Enough to say that in Islam, the right hemisphere-controlled left side of the body is recommended fiercely to be in dormancy !!! Needless to say that training either side of the body has a direct positive feedback on the hemisphere that controls it.

‌Even more, to know that sadly, some Muslim families in the past times were acting to enforce their child if they noticed that he is right-dominant and uses his left hand in manipulating his toys...... were acting to enforce him to use his right hand (e.g. by tying his whole left upper limb for some weeks).

Enough again to say that if Jaynes was true, the traditions of Islam regarding the human body are working (intentionally or not) against bicameralism.

Well, I don't think that citing a paper or a book from a religious or spiritual sect here or there while attacking another religious or spiritual sect there or here, just to support the idea of hallucinatory origin of both of them .. here and there !

I think not it's a smart strategy to work with.

I am Muslim and am committed to the my religion. This doesn't make the ideas of Jaynes (as demonstrated by himself in his book of dawn and breakdown) unacceptable to me, even if he declared his belief in the absence of God at the end of his book. I think this doesn't make difference to anyone who is concerned about science and only science. Max Planck declared as well his belief in cosmic consciousness, A God that's different from that known in human religions. Whatever, this made no difference to the generations of scientists that succeeded him.

‌What I want to say, Jaynes was battling hardly and honestly to solve the most or better to say the main and the only existential problem of human mind .. its essence .. and its deep longing for finding itself. Not to mock some people here or some nations there.

‌The theory of course should have brought an eagerly needed solace and consolation to the Subconsciousness of him, regarding the sorrowful sickness of his lovely sister. It should be helpful also, for finding new and highly effective therapeutic strategies ..(cognitive and behavioral).. to treat patients with different types of mental illnesses. A work on something like this, inspired by the main pillars of his theory, it by itself would give the truly needed credence for the theory.

‌Lastly, from the summit of the mount of our ignorance, we think that the very amazing sketches of Jaynes on the walls of the city of consciousness, to fulfill their (and his) purpose, need to not ignore the other theories advanced by Penrose, Jung and others. We think that at least some of them, even if modified, would provide a substantial help.

‌Best regards
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